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Open Government: Adeleke Is Walking His Talk By Sarafa Ibrahim

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Gov Ademola Adeleke in a group picture with some Osun Monarchs

During his campaign for the governorship seat, Governor Ademola Adeleke promised to run a government that is open and accountable to the people. This promise was emphasized in his remark while receiving a report of the transition committee he set up shortly after he won the election. “Let me reassure the people of Osun state. Good governance is on the way. Responsible and responsive leadership is here. Transparency and accountability are knocking the door. I will be a true people’s governor all the time,” Governor Adeleke remarked at the event.

The fulfilment of that promise was evident on Thursday when Governor Adeleke opened up the book of the finances of the state before traditional rulers across the state. The governor expressly said the move was in “pursuance of my pledge to be transparent and run an open government.”

Right in that hall in the Finance Building of the State Secretariat in Abeere, there was an ambience of disbelief, not just because of the disturbing figures of the state’s debt profile, but the unprecedented show of transparency that the governor demonstrated. It has never happened before in the over 31 years of the state’s existence that a governor will open the books of the state to traditional rulers, not to talk of the generality of the people.

This ignited a flood of praises from traditional rulers, who were unanimous in acknowledging Governor Adeleke’s sincerity and openness. The Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi Enitan, who is the Chairman of the Council of Obas in Osun state, was the first to laud Governor Adeleke for the disclosure, which he said has never been done by any governor in the history of the state.

Other Obas who spoke at the event towed the line of the Ooni of Ife as they took turns to applaud the governor for the openness he has shown, with the Eburu of Iba, Oba Adekunle Adeogun Okunoye, pointedly saying Governor Adeleke has set a standard in transparency and accountability in the governance of the state.

Critics have tried to import unnecessary meanings to the good intention of Governor Adeleke to run an open government, flying all sorts of narratives, which are principally influenced by politics. What they however missed is the simple fact that transparency and accountability are the foundation of good governance.

A governor administers the affairs of a state in trust for the people, and as such, has a responsibility of keeping them informed on the state of things. I understand that Osun people are not used to a governor opening up to them on the finances of the state, nevertheless, that is not enough reason for the sheer mischief that Governor Adeleke’s impressive commitment to accountability has attracted from some quarters.

As Governor Adeleke emphatically noted at the meeting with Osun Obas, his interest was not politics or to trade blame, but rather, a conscious adherence to the ideal of good governance, which has transparency and accountability at its heart. “This is not for political purposes but was in line with my campaign promise to run an open and transparent government,” the governor said.

This clearly defeat the narrative being advanced by some people that the step taken by Governor Adeleke was targeted at anyone. Far from it. The governor simply wants the Osun people, who are the owner of the state, to know the position of things he inherited. If anything, the governor deserves commendation, as he did the right thing by every standard.

Across Osun state, people are tired of guessing the exact amount that was owed on their behalf. But that confusion has been resolved and Osun people now know how much was incurred in their names and for how long it will take to offset it. This is something that happens almost everywhere and I don’t seem to understand the basis for the hullabaloo.

In this Nigeria, the debt accumulated by the federal government is published almost every quarter, making it possible for citizens to raise questions (where necessary) on utilization. It may take some time to have answers on how we got here, but at least, we are no longer in the dark about the huge debt obligations that hang around our necks as Osun citizens.

Governor Adeleke has set the foundation for transparency and accountability in the management of the finances of the state and it is quite remarkable. I am willing to bet that if those who had expressed misgivings at the step look at it objectively, they will most certainly appreciate the incredible benefits of an open government, which defines Governor Adeleke’s action.

•Sarafa Ibrahim writes from Osogbo, Osun state. He can be reached via email: neyoclass09@gmail.com or Twitter: @SarafaNgr

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